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I Can’t Unscrew my Faucet Nuts


faucet nutsReplacing a faucet starts with removing the old faucet. Occasionally, this can be a real chore.

Typically you are laying on your back trying to feel your way up to the underside of the faucet to get a wrench on the nuts. The nuts hold the faucet to the sink, and so these must be removed before you can install the new one. Turn the water off first, and then remove the water supply lines that lead to the faucet. You will get a little water that dribbles out.

If you can’t get to the nuts with a standard wrench, try using a basin wrench, with has jaws and an extension that allow you to get to tight places. This may be enough to get the nuts to loosen. There are times though that it seems nothing will work. For these times, you may need to break out a saw.

A hacksaw blade will cut through the nuts, but it will take time. Chuck a blade into a close-tolerance handle and start cutting (you may also try a nut-splitter tool, but much of this depends on how much space you have there). The close quarters really is the issue. If it was a wide open space, you could use any tool you had and be able to place leverage on it to remove it. I remember having to use  a reciprocating saw on one faucet. I had to cut it into a few pieces before I could get it out. You may need to get creative.


New faucet Won’t Shut Off Water


new faucet dripping resized 600A homeowner called and said his new faucet wouldn’t shut off the cold water. Now that’s strange. He was looking under the sink to try to figure it out. The problem has to be related to the faucet and not under the sink however. This was a two handled faucet and so the problem is isolated to the cold water side.

It might be as easy as repositioning or tightening the handle depending on the style. Sometimes if the handle is not engaging the stem it either won’t turn it all the way on or off, or if it is not correctly aligned, it may hit an integral stop before it is meant to. They will show itself as either low pressure or in your case, the water won’t shut off. You can remove the handle, turn the stem by hand until the water shuts off, and then correctly reposition the handle and tighten.

In the event that is not the problem, you may need to replace the stem and or seat (although this would be rare in a new faucet). You might call the manufacturer of the faucet and they can send out a new free part….or just take the faucet back to the retailer for a new one.

Fix Loose Faucet Handle


loose faucet handleFaucet handles come in all different styles. When a handle becomes a little loose or wobbly, you have to figure out which method is used to secure the handle to the faucet. It’s not difficult at all.

Many plastic handles use a single screw to hold the handle to the faucet (it’s actually screwed into the top of the stem). This style can be found in either the single or double handled faucets. Use a small standard screwdriver and lift off the plastic cap on top of the handle and tighten the screw. Then snap the cap back into place.

Metal handles often use a set screw that is hidden at the bottom of the handle. For aesthetics, it is usually placed at the rear of the handle. Look for a small round opening at the base of the handle in the rear. Use a small allen wrench to tighten the set screw. These openings are very small, and so you will likely have to try a few allen wrenches before you get the one that fits into the top of the set screw. It is a matter of “feel” because you won’t be able to see inside the small opening.

Finally, some handles screw down onto the faucet. The handle will be connected to a round base which screws onto the faucet. Moen Monticello uses this style.


Plumbing an Icemaker to Faucet


dual plumbing valveHomeowners that entertain frequently often have a separate icemaker machine that needs to be connected to the plumbing. These units resemble a small portable refrigerator or wine cooler. The only requirement is for the unit to have a water supply.

The water connection is a pretty straightforward job. You will likely have to choose between a saddle valve and replacing your single outlet faucet angle valve, with a two-outlet angle valve. I really don’t like saddle valves, so if I had a choice I would replace the angle valve. By the way, replace the cold water valve, not the hot one…you don’t want to feed your new icemaker hot water.

You will need to turn the water off to the house to replace the valve. It is likely a compression fitting, so you can remove the existing water supply line and loosen the nut on the back of the valve. Pull the old valve off and slip the new dual-outlet valve on. Don’t worry about replacing the nut with a new one. I just reuse the nut and tighten it onto the new valve.

Reinstall the faucet’s water supply line and then screw on the icemaker’s water supply line onto the empty outlet. Tighten it snuggly and turn the water back on to test for leaks.

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Single Handle Bathroom Faucet Leaks Around Base


single handle faucetA single handle faucet that leaks around the base may be an easy fix or you may be replacing the faucet. If it was a kitchen faucet, I would replace the o-rings, but the difference is a bathroom faucet is that the spout doesn't swivel, so those o-rings don't exist. There are a few things to look at though.

See if you can tell where the water is coming from. In many cases, the water will be traveling from the aerator, down the underside of the spout and finally puddling around the base. If this is the case, remove the aerator and either clean it up and reinstall it, or just replace it.

Another possibility is that water is coming from around the handle. In this case I would replace the cartridge. You will need to turn off the water, remove the handle, remove the retaining pin and finally pull out the cartridge. Get a replacement and reinstall it.

Lastly, it may be that the faucet is corroded and needs to be replaced. You may not even see the leak from above. The body of the faucet may be corroded and pitted or cracked and you may not see it. If you can't see the leak, you probably are looking at replacing the faucet.

I Replaced the Faucet Stem But It Still Leaks


faucet partsFixing a leaking faucet takes a little know how on how they control the flow of water. For a single handle faucet, you will have a cartridge that gets replaced. For a two-handle faucet, there is a stem and a seat. If you replaced the stem, I would look to either replacing the seat or resurfacing it.

The seat acts like a base upon which the stem rests against. To allow the water to flow, the stem moves and allows water to pass. Stopping the flow of water happens when the stem contacts the seat and stops the water…except when the seat is pitted.

You can replace the seat with a seat wrench. Stick the wrench into the seat and unscrew it. This isn’t as easy as it might sound, as you probably will need some elbow grease to loosen it. Take the seat with you to get a new one and reinstall it.

Your other option is to resurface the seat. You can buy a seat dressing tool which slides down the opening and contacts the seat. On the end of the tool is an abrasive tapered end. As you turn the tool, it will slowly grind down the seat to remove the pits and uneven surface. In this way, the seat will have a smooth surface to seal out the water from flowing.


Garden Hose Leaks at Faucet


garden hose leakDoes your garden hose leak at the faucet when you turn on the water? If you are like most of us, then yes it does. There are several possible culprits, so let’s start with the easy ones and move on.

Unscrew the hose from the faucet and look to see if the washer is still in place. Without this hose washer, water will spray all over the place (it may still spray all over the place but at least not as much). Check the condition of the washer. Is it still squashed or twisted? If so, then replace it.

Look also at the threads of the hose connection. These get stepped on and run over by vehicles. If the hose threads won’t easily thread onto the hose faucet, you will have a leak. It may be that the connection is out-of-round. If so, you can buy a kit that allows you cut it off and install a new one. It is a matter of screwing a collar onto the bare hose which has threads connected to it.

Finally, check the hose bib (faucet) itself. Make sure the water leak isn’t coming from there and leaking down the hose to give the appearance that it’s the hose, when in reality it is not. You might be able to tighten the nut below the handle or just replace the faucet itself.


Kitchen Faucet is Loose


kitchen faucet nutsA kitchen faucet can get loose over time and require a quick fix. It seems that faucets with a single handle have more of an issue here than do faucets with separate hot and cold handles. I am guessing that because people push the lever to its extreme travel point and slam it back down causes it to move over time and eventually become loose. This also holds true for bathroom faucets

Fixing it isn’t difficult. You will need to climb under the sink to access the fasteners that hold the faucet to the underside of the sink (or counter). If you have a faucet that sits on a metal base, look for 2 nuts that hold the faucet on. The nuts may not look like nuts at all. They may be colored plastic, but they will thread onto a stud of some kind. On some faucets, you can follow the incoming water supply lines and the nuts will be on the same inlet that the lines are attached to.  Other faucets will have separate threaded rods that allow nuts to be screwed on to them.

Faucets that have no base plate will have a fastener that looks like an open nut. It looks like the letter “C”.  This allows the faucet to be tightened to the sink and still allow the water supply lines and sprayer hose to remain undisturbed.

Use a basin wrench to tighten the nuts that hold the faucet to the sink. This tool gets into tight spaces and allows you to tighten the nuts with little effort.

Plumbing Water Pressure Or Volume Problem?


low plumbing water volume resized 600We had a service call from a customer who was upset with another plumber because he charged lots of money and didn’t fix the problem. The original situation was that if someone turned on a faucet when the customer was showering, the water would just trickle out of the shower head. The other plumber replaced lots of valves and parts and charged them plenty of money…and still didn’t fix the problem. He failed to check the most basic of items, as the problem was not one of water pressure, but water volume. We checked the most basic starting point (the main shut-off valve) and found it to be only partially open. After opening it fully, we solved the problem.

You may have a similar issue, but if you are noticing it only in the bathroom, you might check the fixtures and diagnose them one by one. 

A faucet with low water flow can usually be attributed to a clogged aerator or a partially closed shut-off valve. Use a pair of pliers and unscrew the aerator (wrap the aerator with a rag so you don’t scratch it). The aerator is simply the screen at the end of the faucet with introduces air into the stream of water. Over time, this screen will get clogged with sediment and reduce the flow of water. You can replace it for under $5.00 or just clean it out. 

If the problem is not with the aerator, go under the sink and turn the shut-off valves counter-clockwise to make sure they are wide open. If they are and the water flow is still poor, turn off the valves and disconnect the water supply lines from the faucet. Point the lines into a bucket and turn the water back on to see if there is a good flow of water into the bucket. 

If the flow of water is poor, replace one or both of the valves. If the water flow is strong, I would replace the cartridge in the faucet or the faucet itself. 

For the bathtub/shower, the problem will be with the valve in the wall. I get several calls per week saying that there is no hot water coming out of the shower. Usually, the problem involves a single handle that controls both the hot and cold water. Replacing the cartridge inside this valve will solve the problem. This part will cost under $50 and will take under an hour to replace. If you have separate handles for the hot and cold valves, you can replace one or both of those depending on how poor the flow is in each valve. 

If you are seeing poor water flow throughout you house and you have a water softener or a whole-house water filter, you should investigate them. People often neglect replacing the filters in their system and they get clogged up. For the softener, if you remove an aerator and you find a small, bead-like material plugging up your fixtures, it may be that the softener tank ruptured and sent resin beads flowing down to your fixtures. This will require disassembling the affected fixtures and removing the beads.

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Hose Leaking At Kitchen Faucet


faucet sprayer connectionA kitchen faucet leak becomes more common as the fixture ages. If you have a faucet with a sprayer, you have more opportunity for leaks. A common source of leaks is at the sprayer attachment.

You may find a leak under your kitchen faucet when you see the small puddle of water laying on the cabinet floor. This is going to take some investigative work, along with a flashlight. You will need to turn the water on to the faucet while looking for the leak. Pay particular attention to the area where the sprayer hose connects to the base of the faucet. If the leak is occurring at another location of the faucet, you may end up replacing the faucet if it is not leaking at a connection.

If the leak is at the connection of the sprayer hose, you can try to tighten it, remove it to find the problem, or replace the entire faucet. Some hoses are held on with a threaded connection, and some are held on with a clip. It may be that you can remove it, replace a washer, re-tape the threads with Teflon tape, and screw it back on. However, if the faucet looks to be in generally bad shape I would replace it.

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